The buzz around labeling equipment in the beverage industry isn’t the familiar whir of the machines themselves, but that manufacturers are becoming increasingly focused on green technology and efficiency downstream to meet the demands of beverage companies.
Beverage companies always are looking for ways to save money without cutting corners, so sustainable technology is top of mind now because of the potential savings that it presents, says Rick Pallante, market development manager for packaging at Nordson Corp., Westlake, Ohio.
“Change is difficult unless there’s a reason to do it,” Pallante says. “Nobody will take change unless there’s value associated with it.”
For labeling equipment manufacturers, that means dealing with evolving packaging materials, including thinner bottles and brittle packaging, producing equipment that can keep up with the high speeds of a production line, and incorporating materials that cost less and do not interfere with recycling.
Nordson produces non-contact and closed extrusion systems for labeling, and Pallante says that the manufacturer has developed systems that can reduce the amount of adhesive a beverage company uses by about 70 percent.
The direct cost savings is significant, as adhesives have nearly doubled in cost in recent years, but reducing the amount of adhesive used in packaging has multiple green benefits as well, Pallante says. Adhesives are made from oil-based resins, so a beverage company can save a barrel of oil for every 315 pounds of adhesive reduced, he says.
Excessive adhesive also creates a problem when it comes time to melt recycled PET bottles, Pallante says. If all of the adhesive cannot be removed from a bottle, it will burn up in the process, and the new bottle formed from the recycled material will appear “smoky,” he says.
“Anything we can do to remove the amount of adhesive, lower that amount, and it can be put underneath the sustainability umbrella, I think is a good thing,” he says.
For Raleigh, N.C.-based Axon Corp., a manufacturer of shrink sleeve and stretch sleeve application machinery, the sustainability movement has meant adapting its machines to cut harder, more brittle material, says Ed Farley, the company’s sales director.
When beverage containers began to shift from being manufactured with PVC material to PETG material, Axon had to change its cutting blade materials because PETG is more difficult to cut, Farley says. Although PETG has provided some challenges for labeling machine manufacturers, it also has had a positive effect on the aesthetic appeal of the final package, he says.
“It’s a more consistent material with little or no machine direction shrink,” Farley says. “It allows you to provide a better looking product on odd-shaped containers.”
In the last two years, the standard film thickness also has shrunk as beverage companies look to save money, he adds. Two years ago, the standard film was 50 microns thick, but today it is about 40 to 45 microns, Farley says.
The April 2020 edition explores how Nestlé USA’s drives value to consumers through innovation. Readers also can find out how bars and restaurants are handling the impacts of the pandemic for the on-premise channel. Additionally, this issue highlights the latest trends impacting spirits, soft drinks, packaging materials and much more!